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the used – toxic positivity – album review
When The Used initially broke-through in 2002 with their self-titled debut album, they were received in a somewhat marmite way by fans. They either loved them, or hated them. Few on either side though would have put any money on them going through the next twenty plus years intact.
Perhaps even fewer would have predicted that their eighth album, ‘Heartbreak’, out back in 2020 would’ve been such an important one, receiving much acclaim upon release.
That means that ‘Toxic Positivity’ does have some pressure on it to emulate the successes of its predecessor. But much of that pressure disappeared with the relatively slim build-up for the album, with only a couple of pre-release singles and ‘Giving Up’ coming just days before release.
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That’s quite rare these days but is nice, because when you hit play on the new record, you don’t really know what to expect. An opening track as powerful as ‘Worst I’ve Ever Been’, would normally be given away ahead of release these days. Instead it’s a punch to the face that instantly makes a statement.
That is followed up by the one fully pre-release single, ‘Numb’, and the combative ‘I Hate Everybody’, as the themes of the album are laid bare early. Singer Bert McCracken has been brutally honest about the mental health related issues covered on this record, and some may find it a tough listen. Others though will find some solace from an album that wears its heart on its sleeve.
Musically this album is an accumulation of everything that has seen The Used though the past two decades. It’s again produced by John Feldmann, so there should be no surprise that it’s again packed full of catchy sing-a-long pop rock moments.
As well as benefitting from the lack of pre-release material, the relatively short runtime of the record also makes it disappear in an enjoyable flash. The Used however have proven why they’ve had such longevity, and against what many would’ve predicted back in the hedonistic days of 2002, the band confirm that they are no flash in the pan!
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